Champion Wildcats

MARQUETTE – Three hockey alumni from Northern Michigan University have recently captured league championships in professional minor and overseas leagues.

The three are Greger Hanson, who played at NMU from 2007-11, Ryan Kesti, a Wildcat from 2010-15, and Jamie Milam, who skated at Northern from 2002-06.

– Hanson helped the ECHL’s Allen Americans of Allen, Texas, win their second straight Kelly Cup last Thursday. He netted an league-best 15 goals during the Americans’ playoff run, including three in the Kelly Cup finals against the Wheeling, West Virginia, Nailers.

In Game 5 on June 4, Hanson found the back of the net 17 seconds into overtime to lift Allen to a 3-2 victory and 3-2 series lead. He scored the Americans’ second goal in the decisive Game 6.

A year ago, Hanson was named the Kelly Cup playoffs MVP after leading Allen with 29 points on 12 goals and 17 assists in 25 games.

He tallied three game-winning goals, including 5:25 into overtime in Game 4 of the Kelly Cup finals against South Carolina Stingrays, which included NMU alumnus Wade Epp, who played for the Wildcats from 2009-14.

Hanson was also a member of the 2013-14 Allen team that won the final Levins Cup as Central Hockey League champions.

– Kesti was crowned a league champion in his first professional season as a member of the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Pensacola, Florida, Ice Flyers. The former Wildcat captain recorded five points, including three goals, in Pensacola’s seven playoff games.

The Ice Flyers wrapped up their three-game sweep of the Peoria, Illinois, Rivermen in dramatic fashion on May 5. With one second left in regulation, Kesti set up Josh Cousineau’s dramatic game-winning goal. After winning a race to a loose puck, Kesti whipped a backhanded pass on net that was tipped to Cousineau by Brandon Zurn for the score.

– Milam posted 10 points on four goals and six assists in 17 playoff games to help HK Nitra win its first Slovak championship in the professional club’s history. During the regular season, he led all defensemen in the Slovakian Extraliga with 30 points, including eight goals, in 55 games. He also ranked third on HK Nitra with a plus-minus rating of plus-19.

Before moving overseas, Milam won back-to-back CHL titles with the Bossier-Shreveport, Louisiana, Mudbugs in 2010-11 and Fort Wayne, Indiana, Komets in 2011-12. This was his first season with HK Nitra.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee.

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